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tv   Meet the Press  MSNBC  April 20, 2014 11:00pm-12:01am PDT

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on this easter sunday, the president is confronted by a troubling question, just how far will russian president putin go in ukraine, and what can be done to stop him? this morning i have an exclusive interview with the prime minister of ukraine who warn that is putin is far from finished. >> president putin has a dream to restore the soviet union. >> should america send weapons to ukraine's outgunned military? i'll ask two key members of the senate foreign relations committee this morning. also, the high stakes politics in this midterm election year. health care and social issues. the author of a new book about the fight over gay marriage joins me to talk about whether the religious right has lost some of its potency. we'll also hear from the chair of the democratic party,
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debbie wasserman schultz, on whether this week's good news on health care can turn the tide for democrats this fall. from nbc news in washington, the world's longest running television program, this is "meet the press" with david gregory. first, on this holiday morning, we wanted to get the latest from ukraine. there's been more bloodshed with at least two people killed in fighting this morning in eastern ukraine. armed pro-russian separatists there refusing to stand down, ignoring the terms of a deal broker in geneva. two key voices from the senate foreign relations committee will join me in just a moment, but first i spoke this weekend with the country's prime minister who joined me from kiev. prime minister yatsenyuk, welcome to "meet the press." we thank you very much for your time, sir. >> my pleasure, sir. >> the west, including ukraine, the united states, and russia struck a deal to calm the violence in eastern ukraine. what's it going to take for this deal to hold?
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>> well, much depends on the russian federation. as russia triggered this violence and russia supported these terrorists and russia was obliged in the geneva meeting to condemn terrorists and to condemn those so-called peaceful protesters with ak-74 in their hands shooting into civilians and shooting into ukrainian riot police, and if russia pulls back its security forces and former kgb agents, this would definitely calm down the situation and stabilize the situation in the eastern ukraine. >> when you hear president vladimir putin talk about new russia where he talks about ukraine being part of russia, does that tell you that putin will not stop until ukraine is part of russia? >> president putin has a dream to restore the soviet union, and
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every day he goes further and further, and god knows where is the final destination, and he was very clear saying this in his state of the union two years ago, and i believe that you do remember his speech, famous munich speech, saying the biggest disaster of the former century is the collapse of the soviet union. i consider that the biggest disaster of this century would be the restoring of the soviet union under the auspices of president putin. >> there is discussion that nato might even commit ground troops in the baltic states to make it very clear to putin that he cannot go further. do you think the baltic states, even poland, have a reason to be concerned about putin's intentions? >> the world has a reason to be concerned about putin's intentions because what russia federation did, they undermined the global stability. they actually eliminated a
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nuclear nonproliferation program just to remind you that ukraine, when we gave up our nuclear arsenals in 1994, and we got a number of guarantors of our territorial integrity. it was the united states, the uk, and russia, and actually russia violated this deal, and russia undermined the entire program of nuclear nonproliferation, and it's crystal clear that for today russia is the threat, is the threat to the globe and the threat to the european union and the real threat to ukraine. >> vice president biden will be in ukraine this coming week. my question to you, prime minister, is ukraine strong enough militarily to stop russia in the east? if not, what specifically will you ask the obama administration for? do you need modern weaponry, advanced lethal wep upaponry top the russians?
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>> we need a strong and solid state. we need financial and economic support. we node to overhold ukrainian military. we need to modernize our security and military forces. we need the real support. you know, it's easy to answer the question you just asked me. how can you stop the nuclear powers state which is russian federation that spent billions of dollars to modernize their military instead of ukraine as in the last four years the former president together with the russian supporters, what they did, they just dismantled ukrainian military and ukrainian security forces. so we need to be in a very good shape in order to stop russia, and for this shape, we need to have and to get the real support from our western partners. >> so you need weapons? >> we need financial, economic support. we need to modernize ukrainian
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military and to overhaul all structures of ukrainian defense system. >> are you prepared to let eastern ukraine become autonomous, which would effectively mean it would be part of russia's orbit? >> russia made a number of offers starting with so-called federalization and then with a new constitution, and they strongly recommend us how to govern ukraine. my recommendation to russia is that we believe that they need to change their constitution, too, and to make ukrainian language as the state one because we have a huge ukrainian speaking minority in russia, and they need to empower their federal states with more autonomy, too. so the question is that they have their own country, we have our own country. and we can fix our problem inside with any kind of russian support. the more russians support us,
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the more problem we get. so if russia pulls back, we will have ukraine as one united territorial integral sovereign and independent state. any russian ideas related to federalism or to autonomous status of southern or eastern ukraine are aimed at only one thing, how to eliminate ukrainian independence. >> final question, there have been ghastly reports coming out of eastern ukraine this week about some kind of forces forcing jews in the eastern part of the country to register with local authorities. what do you make of this? are these accurate? are jews particularly at risk? >> we got an information that these so-called peaceful protesters with the live ammunition in their hands that defend a number of bulletins
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saying that everyone who is a jew to be indicated as a jew, and today in the morning i made a clear statement and urged ukrainian military and security forces and ukrainian department of homeland security urgently to find these bastards and to bring them to justice. >> prime minister, thank you very, very much for your time. we appreciate it. >> thank you, sir. >> i'm joined now by two members of the senate foreign relations committee, ranking member republican member bob corker from tennessee and the democrat chris murphy from connecticut. welcome to both of you. senator corker, let me start with you. i know you'll be in the region this coming week. here is what you've got. you've got a deal that's been undermined on the ground as you've got more violence, and here is the ukrainian prime minister saying that vladimir putin is still on the march. so what do you do now if you're the obama administration? what do you want them to do? >> you know, the same thing i have been urging them to do by telephone and other meetings, david, and that is to go ahead and put in place some of the
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sarntio sanctions that have been discussed. they've signed an executive order. i don't think putin believes we're really going to punish them in that way. we keep waiting to see what their next step is. as i have said before, our foreign policy is always a day late and a dollar short because we're reacting. to me unless they immediately begin moving the 40,000 troops on the border, which are intimidating people in ukraine, unless they begin immediately moving them away, i really do believe we should be sanctioning some of the companies in the energy sector. i think we should hit some of the large banks there, and certainly we should beef up our security relationship was ukraine. we have relationships with 138 countries around the world where we help them with hardware and other kinds of things, and for us to really have drawn ukraine out, the west drew them out in this way, we've helped in many ways create the problems that are existing there, and to leave them alone in the manner that we're leaving them alone to me is just unconscionable.
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again, sanctions, cooperation with them relative to strengthening their military. they only have about 6,000 troops, david, that are even trained and equipped to deal with russia coming in, but, again, i think russia is going to do it overtime the way they're doing it with black ops, intimidation. i think we're going to lose eastern ukraine if we continue as we are, and i think it's going to be a geopolitical disaster if that occurs. >> senator murphy, let me pick up on one piece of that. what i asked the ukrainian prime minister, do any need weapons from the united states? maybe that's provocative with all the russian troops on the border, but how do you send a clear message that the ukrainian military is going to get fortified and it's not going to be outgunned the way it is now? >> well, i have met with yatsenyuk a number of times and he didn't say anything differently than what he said to you, that their focus right now is on trying to rebuild the ukrainian economy. so his first priority is making sure that the ukrainian people who now finally have control of their own government in kiev
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have an economy that can sustain them. what he is interested in from a military perspective is the long-term rebuilding of the ukrainian military. now, the united states has already provided about $10 million in defensive and military aid. we've provided mres, provided equipment, we've upgraded their border capacity, but in reality it's really uncertain as to whether the sad state of the ukrainian military is so deteriorated that it can't even handle things -- >> but we're talking about the here and now. >> that's right. >> and the reality is that as i talk to business leaders around the country, as i talk to former diplomats, you have to worry day by day the lesson that is putin is drawing from this. he wanted crimea, he took crimea, there was no penalty. he put forces on the border, they're still there. he's already, it looks like, violated this agreement just after a couple of days. so how then do you have a strong, clear message that says to him, okay, we're done here. you can't go any further? senator corker, first to you.
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>> david, i had some degree of difficulty hearing everything that you said, but, again, i think the administration is basically saying to russia, look, don't do anything overt, don't come across the border with the 40,000 troops, don't embarrass us in that way, but you can continue to undermine the sovereignty of ukraine by doing the things that you've done, and, again, i've urged in every way i can for this administration to go ahead and, again, push back now. it's going to be too late, just like we did in syria where in essence let's face it, the wisest thing, i hate to say such a crass thing on easter sunday morning, the wisest thing that assad did really was to kill 1,200 people with chemical weapons because in essence we said don't embarrass us anymore that way. you can go ahead and kill another 60,000 people with barrel bombs and by other means, but don't embarrass us, and i think that's what we're saying
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to russia today by the actions that we're not taking. don't embarrass us, but you can continue the black ops activities. you can continue the other things that you're doing. we know that over time you're going to reach the goalins that the prime minister so eloquently laid out. you're going to reach those, but don't do it in a way that embarrasses us. again, the world is watching. our allies in europe are watching. our nato friends and others know that this is where we are, and i think we need to step on out and do the things that we threaten because i don't think putin will respond to anything else other than us overtly doing the things we've laid out. >> senator murphy, part of the problem with being more aggressive on sanctions is that there's an assumption that the europeans will stand fast with the united states. that may be a false assumption because they need the oil. they want to do business in russia, and it could be american businesses that are hurt along with russia as well. so the same question, of course, to you, which is how do you send that message that enough is enough? >> well, i think this is where
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senator corker and i certainly agree. i think the time is now to rapidly ratchet up our sanctions whether it's on russian sha petrochemical companies or russia banks. i agree the europeans need to look at this from their security perspective as well. if russia does get away with this, i think there is a potential that a nato ally is next, and, yes, there will be economic pain for europe, but it's time for them to lead as well, and there are some things that the united states and europe can do together to try to be able to remedy that pain to europe. for instance, we can look at targeted lng exports that may not help in the next few months but will help in the next six months, next year and a half to try to degrfray some of the cos to the european economy. >> one final question, senator corker, to you. the specter of edward snowden in the middle of all this during a lengthy question and answer session that vladimir putin had
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where he took a question from snowden where he asked him if russia is engaged in the mass surveillance and collection of data that the united states is in. what did that exchange tell you about how putin is using snowden and the role that snowden is playing as he's got asylum in russia? >> again, i'm having some degree of difficulty hearing, but to me it was a tremendous public relations stunt. those of us who have traveled to russia realize that the whole time we're there we're likely being filmed and listened to. it's the one country we go into knowing that every move we make is being watched and listened to, and to make the kind of comments that they're not looking in on russian people, the russian people are very -- they know very well the government looks in on them constantly. we know that very well when we're there. so, again, in our face. again, what putin is doing to
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embarrass our nation, and again we should only react to substantial, not words, but what he's doing in that way to me, again, continues to undermine our credibility and candidly to show the air of permissiveness we have created around the world since lost august. >> senators corker and murphy, happy easter to you both. thank you so much for your time this morning. >> thank you. >> i've got the round table here. our political round table, chuck todd, our political director. david brooks, columnist for "the new york times" and radhika jones from "time" magazine who careers included work at paris review and moscow times and david shribman or for the last 11 years as served as the executive editor of the "pittsburgh post-gazette," a big city paper that's thriving in tough times thanks to you, no doubt. no stranger to washington. you have covered national politics for "the new york times," "wall street journal," and "the boston globe." welcome to all of you. david brooks, here is my take on
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where i see president obama vis-a-vis putin and ukraine. he wants to go quieter in his foreign policy. he wants to get out of the business of drawing red lines. he wants to diffuse conflict and think narrowly of where the united states can have an impact. he got a deal this week, it's already falling apart. he has tougher choices ahead. >> you get the sense he's stepping back from the conversation. it's not what's happening day to day in ukraine they're reacting to. and i think they've decided and i think it's the right decision, it's not that putin is trying to restart the cold war. he's more like an imperlallist and expansion ix who will expand for reasons of his own theology, ideology, internal structural reasons. he needs to be on the offense all the time. how do you deal with somebody who is going to be perpetually expansi expansionist? i think the answer is obvious, you get a balance of power, fill in vacuums around him. that's why we're hearing the discussion about modernizing the ukrainian military, filling them with economic aid. just to try to create buffer
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zen zones. >> you see david ignatius write in "the washington post" the idea that the president is trying to find room to diffuse this crisis, give putin some room to save face. that the president doesn't feel like he can prevail on a mano y mano showdown. >> the president is very aware of his own base and how much the american people care day to day what's happening in ukraine, and the other thing is that putin, as we've seen, a working on his own time line, and the west hasn't been all that successful in deterring him from doing so. we know ukrainian elections are coming up on may 25th, and it's in putin's interest to simply destabilize the region a bit before then. not necessarily to go in full force. so there is a little bit of window there. >> david sha ribman, how do you see this from outside of our ecosystem in d.c.? >> the question really is how much of lessons of history apply here and whether history's lessons might be some kind of a distraction. but we've seen this movie kind
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of in two incarnations. david mentioned the 19th century and also mentioned 1938 and 1939. the difference between now and 1938 and 1939 is that the guarantors of poland's integrity were contiguous to the aggres r aggressor. france was contiguous to germany. we're 5,000, 6,000 miles away from ukraine. i worry about the increase of soviet iconography in modern russia and the threat that might not only be to the former soviet republics but also how about a recreation of the warsaw pact. that's something that's something we should worry about down the line as well. >> it's interesting, i mentioned snowden, chuck todd, and the role he played this week in the middle of everything with ukraine. i want to show a bit of the question snowden asked and read putin's response. >> does russia intercept, store, or analyze in any way the communications of millions of
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individuals? and do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigation can justify placing society's rather than subjects under surveillance. >> putin didn't seem surprised by the fact snowden was there. he said mr. snowden, you're a former agent, a spy. our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law so how special forces can use this kind of special equipment as they intercept phone calls or follow someone online and you have to get a court permission to stalk that particular person. we don't have a mass system of such interception and according to our law it cannot exist. our special services thank good are strictly controlled by the society and the law and regulated by the law. what's going on here? >> well, that was obviously a pr stunt and every moment that he can stick a finger in the eye of the united states i think he takes it. but to go back to where the white house believes they are here, they're desperately just trying to get to a containment strategy of not just containing putin -- >> isolating putin. >> and isolating putin but also
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just sort of containing this issue because there is this fear, as you know, he doesn't want this to become the rest of his presidency. you know, but in many ways he is being tested here in some way on how he handles ukraine. for instance, i'm about to hop on a plane in two days, we're going on this asia trip. and, oh, by the way, japan has an issue with islands with china, korea has some territorial issues. there are a lot of countries in asia that have territorial issues with china. how is the united states, where are they going to sit when this decides to raise its head and become an issue there? so that's why this does matter globally, sort of how the white house responds to this, and they have no interest right now -- >> basically we've had an assumption that borders are basically going to be borders, and once that comes into question, if in ukraine or crimea or anywhere else, then all over the world -- >> all bets are off. >> all bets are off, and let's face it, obama whether deservedly or not does have it -- i'll say it crudely, but a
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manhood problem in the middle east. is he tough enough to stand up to somebody like assad or putin. a lot of the rap is unfair. >> inteschally this is sort of -- they fear this. it's not just bob corker saying it. questioning whether the president is being alpha male. that's essentially what he's saying. his rhetoric isn't tough enough. they agree with the policy decisions. but it is sort of the rhetoric. internally this is a question. >> to health care, which is the obvious transition at this table. radhika -- i have been waiting years to say that in a transition. let's talk about health care and the president facing the were he is this week, meeting the press you might say, and it was answering a question about health care. here is what he said. >> they still can't bring themselves to admit that the affordable care act is working. they said nobody would sign up. they were wrong about that. they said it would be unaffordable for the country. they were wrong about that. they were wrong to keep trying to repeal a law that is working.
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>> a law that is working. he's telling democrats this is the argument you should go make when you're campaigning this fall. >> he's so happy not to have to talk about the website anymore. >> right. >> i think that's a big part of it. yeah, the president suddenly is very happy to talk about the aca. it doesn't seem likely that democrats will be as happy because even if -- i mean in terms of their local elections. even if the law is working and let's remember this is a law that passed four years ago, the constitutionality of it was confirmed almost two years ago, it's been around, and it is not going anywhere. but it remains unpopular. even among people in states where the signups have been plentiful, it remains unpopular sort of as a general policy. >> and, david, in pittsburgh, as you talk to people, do they understand the law? do they think the law is a good thing? >> no and maybe. they don't understand the law. they don't know how it applies to businesses. they don't know how it applies to themselves.
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they still think the website is a symbol of government incompetence and of artificial barriers, but i do wonder if i think back to the reagan years when everybody called it reaganomics and then it started to work a little bit and the president was pleased to call it reaganomics. this president hopes to get to a place where he will be pleased to call it obamacare. >> is it going to increase the number of people who have insurance? the answer seems to be yes. the second is what the president just mentioned, is affordability. much worse news this week. it seemed like health care inflation was trending down, the latest news is it's shooting back up. so that trend down might have been caused by the recession and not obamacare. so if health care inflation goes up, we have a gigantic problem on our hands. you have an incomplete on that. and does it actually help the health of americans? still huge incompletion. >> i think ultimately democrats have to make this decision. do they ignore it and try to have another conversation at
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this election and let the republicans own the health care debate? i think it's a long-term mistake. they may lose the battle on health care again this fall in these elections, but they have to start figuring out how to make this a political winner for them and have to start fighting on this in the campaign because if they don't, then they're going to be running away from health care another election after this, another election after this, another election after this. i think they need to start confronting this in a more aggressive way. >> hillary clinton is out talking this week. she was talking about immigration. what really has people talking, a couple things, one, the cover of her book "hard choices", and the news that chelsea, her daughter, is having a baby. so i wonder, ra can i dhikaradh the hard choice she's referring to is, is she going to run? does the fact she's going to become a grandmother factor into this question? >> i think hillary clinton has juggled so many jobs in her life that adding grandmother to her bio would not defer hter her fr
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running. i think this might be one of the easier choices she has to make, but it remains true that she doesn't really have to make it in the foreseeable future. i mean, her whole strategy has been to wait, and she has, you know, the fame on her side, the name recognition on her side. she has the fund-raising on her side, and it's in her interest to let it play out a little longer. >> david -- >> i think she's been enormously successful running for president by not running for president and not until september or october does she have to become a little more aggressive politically, but right now this strategy is winning. it's one of the great winners of political history, and she should stay with it. >> can i be the first to speculate on when the granddaughter might run for president? >> is that the year? >> who is first? >> which bush. >> i guess it would be george p.'s children. let me say one thing on hillary. at some point though you're right about september/october.
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if -- she's essentially the de facto leader of the democratic party. she's going to have to start showing up on the trail. democrats need her. particularly the swing vote in america is hillary clinton's demographic. it's older white women. that is the swing vote. if mark pryor wins or loses to older -- >> very much the kind of liberal populist that's filling the void. we're going to take a break. we'll have more from the round table. coming up next, the president, as we've been talking about, went on the offensive over health care this week, but it is a winning issue for the democrats in the midterms or is it still something they have to deal with going uphill? i will discuss the challenges facing the party with the chair of the party, debbie wasserman schultz, coming up after this. "meet the press" is brought to you by -- you think you take off all your make-up before bed. but do you really? [ female announcer ] neutrogena® makeup remover erases 99% of your most stubborn makeup
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we are back. the president's approval ratings are casting a deep shadow on the prospect for democrats in this year's upcoming elections. to discuss the challenges, i'm joined by florida congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz. >> thank you. >> here is the challenge. the president is out there making the case that, run on this, make the arguments, accuse the republicans of trying to take this away, but you have vulnerable democrats who are saying something else. they're basically saying the law is flawed, and we should fix it.
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this is gene shaheen in a radio news interview. she said, i think there are important things about the affordable care act that are working and working very well. i think we need to fix the things that are not working and that's what i'm committed to. i would have designed it differently if i had been designing it. unfortunately, i wasn't the person who was writing the law. i think hindsight is always 20/20. you always know you could have done better. to me that's not a ringing endorsement to get people out there to vote. >> that's legislation 101. that's how we have handled laws and their evolution throughout american history. the president is right and jeanne shaheen is right. we have a law that is working. 8 million people have gained health care coverage as a result of signing up for the affordable care act plan. 129 people with pre-existing conditions no longer have to be worried about being dropped and denied coverage. i'm one of them as a breast cancer survivor. you have millions of seniors paying lower costs on their prescription drugs, and these are the things that republicans are obsessed with taking away
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and focused on going everything they can to block president obama at every turn even if it means hurting the middle class while at the same time you have our candidates, our incumbents like jeanne shaheen and mary landrieu who understand this is a law that's working for millions of people and as we discover there are problems, we should work together -- >> but you're making the argument on the merits as the president is doing, but what you've got is something that's opaque, as david shribman was saying, the publisher in pittsburgh, a lot of people simply don't understand it, and they don't understand fully what the impact is going to be. jonathan martin writing in "the new york times" this morning writes this, democrats could ultimately see some political benefit from the law, but in this midterm election they're confronting a vexing reality. many of those helped by the health care law, notable lie young people and minorities are the least likely to cast votes that could preserve it. even though millions have gained health insurance and millions more will benefit from some of its popular provisions. the angry opponents are more mobilized than the beneficiaries
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said david axelrod. midterm falloff, sixth year of his presidency. this has to be an urgent issue for you as the chair of the party making sure democrats get out and vote and who are excited about this law. >> there are millions of people who understand the benefits of the health care law, particularly women who i have spoken to who are breast cancer patients, who no longer have to choose between the chemothera chemotherapy -- >> you're arguing the merits, chairman, which i understand, but do you not have a turnout problem that you're worried about? >> every election it is critical that we turn our vote out, and i would and will match up our ground game and our turnout operation which ran circles around the republicans in 2012 and in 2008 any day of the week. we have senators across this country, house members, there's 14 open seats in the house. 11 of which democrats have an advantage, only 3 of which you would saline more to the gop in terms of advantage. you have the republican party
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who is strangled by the tea party. they're weighed down by republican primaries in which the tea party candidates are the likely winners, and we have countless elections now that democrats have won because the republicans have nominated extremists that their voters reject and that's the advantage we will have going into this election. >> but the -- you have a historic disadvantage because a president in second term in midterms historically has a difficult time. you have a president with a low approval rating and let's be hon etion, you have vulnerable democrats who are in effect running against this white house. let's talk about the issue of our energy future, the keystone xl pipeline. the president and the administration delayed a decision on whether this pipeline should be approved going from canada down through the united states into the gulf of mexico. and mary landrieu from louisiana issued a statement on friday saying this critical of the administration. today's decision by the administration amounts to nothing short of an indefinite delay of the keystone pipeline. the decision is irresponsible, unnecessary, and unacceptable.
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by making it clear that they will not move the process forward until there's a resolution in a lawsuit in nebraska, the administration is sending a signal that the small minority who oppose the pipeline can tie up the process in court forever. there are 42,000 jobs, $20 billion in economic activity, and north america's energy security at stake. isn't it true that because the president can't get a big law to combat climate change, he doesn't want to upset those environmentalists who would be upset with him if he approved keystone. >> what's true is the decision over the keystone pipeline is complex and it has to be examined very carefully. it affects multiple states. what's also true is incumbent senators like mary landrieu understand the issue that is are important on the ground in their state to their constituents and take a look, david, at the 2012 u.s. senate results. you have in almost half of the senate races that we had an open seat the democratic candidate won even though mitt romney won that state. so, you know, the predictions
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that we are headed for the minority in the united states senate really don't line up with the historical situation on the ground in those campaigns. will the president approve keystone in the end? you had s should he? >> he has to continue to take a close look at it. the environmental concerns are legitimate. >> are you worried this shouldn't be resolved boofer the election because of the potential impact it could have? >> as a member of congress who represents people in south florida, i want to make sure the right decision is arrived at and the president makes that decision carefully and doesn't put politics in his decision. >> is the issue in the fall a referendum on president obama? >> no, absolutely not. no. in a midterm election -- and even like i said in 2012, these elections, particularly the senate elections, are referendums on the candidates running. if they were not, you would have seen the states where mitt romney won -- >> but these democrats seem to know the issue -- they are
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critical of the administration, critical of ous law. they're not running on specific needs in their state, shaheen and landrieu you just mentioned. they understand that a midterm race is really about the president and his policies. it's about president obama and health care. is that not the case? >> what's the case is each of these candidates have to run their own race. they have to talk about and focus on the issue that is are important to their constituents, and what's also true is if you look at the success rate and the track record of these incumbent members, mark pryor, mary landrieu, mark begich, they're all ahead of any of their republican opponents and these republicans are mired in a civil war where the tea party has won, and they are consistently nominating the most extreme candidates and we're on offense in states as well. so you've got georgia and kentucky and even mississippi where we have a very good chance to pick up those seats. so this election is going to be quite competitive but we have to turn our voters out. >> would you like to see hillary
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clinton campaigning? >> i'm confident hillary clinton is going to be helpful to our candidates across the country. that's something that i'm entirely comfortable with. >> thank you, congresswoman. >> thank you so much, david. >> nice to have you here. coming up here on the program, russell crowe's big screen portrayal of noah has generated controversy. now the construction of a life-sized noah's ark is dividing. in a small town in kentucky. we'll [ male announcer ] they say he was born to help people clean. but there are some places even mr. clean doesn't want to lug a whole bunch of cleaning supplies. that's why he created the magic eraser extra power. just one eraser's versatile enough to clean all kinds of different surfaces and three times more grime per swipe. so instead of fussing with rags and buckets, you can get back to the great outdoors, which can be pretty great. that's why when it comes to clean, there's only one mr. [ bird screeches ]
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and we are back. a hollywood take on the story of noah's ark starring russell crowe has grossed tens of millions of dollars over the past few weeks, and in northern kentucky a huge replica of the ark is due to be built along with a christian theme park. in today's "meeting america"
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segment, kevin tibbles tells us why there's enthusiasm but also skepticism about a large display of faith in the public square. >> reporter: the season of renewal has arrived in the foothills of the eastern kentucky mountains. here in williamstown, with its 4,000 people and two dozen churches, they like to call it city close and country quiet. but there is a buzz in the air about a proposed construction project of biblical proportions just up the road. >> i think it's huge. i think people would definitely come to see that. >> reporter: as she studies her bible over a morning cup of coffee, kelly eisler is clearly enthusiastic. >> you think this never happens, so the fact they're actually making it into something that is real life for us, kind of opens up that imagery of wow, this actually happened. >> reporter: it is noah's ark.
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not a scale model like this one, but a massive life-size replica. part of an attraction planned by answers in genesis, a christian organization that believes in a literal interpretation of the bible. >> make yourself an ark. >> reporter: noah is quite a popular figure these days. the ark also appears in the hollywood blockbuster starring russell crowe and many pairs of animals. estimates suggest the ark encounter park will cost some $150 million to build. in the kitchen, bill greg readies for the easter rush. he's a fan of the ark project. it's expected to employ as many as 900 people. >> there is a separation of church and state, but they've not presented it as a church. they've presented it as a theme attic park. >> it's kind of a sucker punch to know my tax dollars are like helping to prop this up. >> reporter: chris baxter's not
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sold. kentucky has granted answers in genesis to build the ark park. >> i pass over a lot of potholes. i know a lot schools that could use some bonuses for teachers. instead, we're going to build the mickey mouse version of a bible story, and that is a little depressing to me. >> reporter: commotion rains just across the ohio river in daryl's pet shop. he says he doesn't often think about the separation of church and state, but he believes in it as he does in god. >> to mmato, tomato, what is it. if that's a theme park, it's an acceptable reason to give incentives. if it's strictly religious, i don't think you can give money. >> reporter: for "meet the press," kevin tibbles. >> reaction from our round table, david shribman, how does this sit with you. we see debates all over the country about faith in the public square which is small town and big town alike.
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>> we have public meetings in pittsburgh four or five times a year, and one of the them every year is on the role of religion in the public square, and we get double the attendance that we get for anything else. it's the most vital issue or at least the most tumultuous issue i think in civic life beyond what the newspapers say. >> how do you resolve it? >> i don't think the earth is as old as the builders of the park do. we nid reminders of the moral dramas in life. easter has a trajectory of that story, love, sacrifice, and rebirth. you don't have to be a christian to learn that. i am for anything that can renew moral reminders. >> my only concern is if we go two by two, we have three davids here. >> there's another story, this is a small city, big town, that's our story of the economy. that's a story of what's wrong with the economy. there's no manufacturer there is they're debating about let's
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build this ark, maybe it becomes a tourist attraction, maybe this generates some dollars. that's another part of the story that i think we -- this is what's taking place all across middle america right now. >> we're going to take a break and come back and hear from radhika and others when you're joined by the you a their of a new book on the fight for marriage equality and a discussion on whether the influence of the religious right in politics is on decline as really... so our business can be on at&t's network for $175 dollars a month? yup. all five of you for $175. our clients need a lot of attention. there's unlimited talk and text. we're working deals all day. you get 10 gigabytes of data to share. what about expansion potential? add a line anytime for 15 bucks a month. low dues... great terms... let's close. new at&t mobile share value plans. our best value plans ever for business.
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coming up, the author of a new book about the fight for marriage equality in america and how an appearance on this very program by vice president joe biden created a little bit of a stir in the white house. we'll talk about it after this. you think you take off all your make-up before bed. but do you really? [ female announcer ] neutrogena® makeup remover erases 99% of your most stubborn makeup with one towelette. can your makeup remover do that? [ female announcer ] neutrogena® makeup remover.
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you're comfortable with same-sex marriage now? >> look, i am vice president of the united states of america. the president sets the policy. i am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual, men marrying women, are entitled to the same rights, the all the civil rights, all the civil liberties, and quite frankly i don't see much of a distinction beyond that. >> that was a pretty newsy answer on this program a couple years ago by the vice president who appeared here, and according to my guest who is here in her
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new book, biden's statement created a little bit of chaos within the white house after he got ahead of president obama and endorsed gay marriage essentially here. the book is "forcing the springs: inside the fight for marriage equality" by jo becker who joins us here. it's good to have you here. take us to the reaction in the white house. the white house said afterwards, no, no, the president was going to endorse gay marriage before the election anyway. >> sure. the president and his advisers ha had been debating this for month. there were two countervailing political forces going on. they were quite worried it would hurt him among latinos, catholic white voters, and depress turnout among socially conservative african-american voters. on the other hand, they were starting to see data that said this was his refusal to endorse was a huge impediment among 18 to 30-year-old vote whose they needed to turn out in the same numbers. there was this debate and the president said if he's asked about this i'd like to be able to answer it honestly, and even
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though, even so, there was no plan put in place. it's a measure of how scared they were of this issue. and so the vice president had actually shortly before coming on your program had been at the home of a gay couple in california and out playing with their children, and he'd been asked about it privately there. and he sort of said something similar to what he told you, but when he came on your program, that encounter playing with those children, an aide said it was like his hard drive got erased. he's been answering this question the same way over and over, but you asked him this question and this encounter was still ringing sort of in his ears and he gave you the answer that he did, and when the transcript hit the white house, chaos erupted. >> it's interesting, if you put the gay marriage debated into the wider political context of the power of the religious right on our politics on this easter sunday and we look at this chart that shows views about gay marriage and that shift. you don't -- look at the red and green arrows and you see a complete shift going back to
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2003 where support is complehas completely overtaken it. is it symbolic of the social issues being less important in our elections. >> certainly what we saw in the last election was same-sex marriage was not a driving force for republican voters. abortion was still up there, was still a priority, but this is an issue that the country is just changing, and i think one of the most interesting things is if you look at young evangelical voters, almost half of supportive of the right of gays and lesbians to marry. >> still a question karl rove was asked and he said he could see a presidential candidate who is a republican endorsing gay marriage. do you think again that hold of what we call the religious right is loosening? >> i think it's so generational. i mean, i really -- that question of is obama -- if he didn't make that declaration, was he going to lose millennials? i remember when he made his statement to robin roberts, one of the most authentic parts of it was i've spoke ton my children and sasha and malia
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don't understand why the gay parents of their friends would be treated differently. that it seems to me is a very powerful force and as that young generation grows up and takes that kind of equality for granted, it seems to me like it will, you know, become a widespread -- >> strictly about especially the book and the reporting you did was what a strategist kurlly we live in. this is an issue of civil rights and morality and the president has one view and to shift the view they have to get this whole apparatus, focus group testing and strategizinstrategizing. you reported about ken mehlman and this whole apparatus has to move muinch by inch. we live in a strategist culture. >> this has happened before. 51 years ago this spring vice president johnson alienated from the administration went up to gettysburg, his son and grandson of confederates. he gave a speech answering martin luther king's letter from a birmingham jail. he moved the administration far
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beyond where it expected to be on civil rights and by next tuesday he was included in meetings and the president, president kennedy went further than he thought he was going to go at the time. >> look, it was brazenly political what they did on how they handle gay marriage. they were worried about a floor fight at their own convention. i don't think the republican party 2016 willi be able to be for same-sex marriage but i bet by 2020. jo becker, good luck with the book. thanks for being here. happy easter for all of you. i wanted to show you pictures of pope francis giving his traditional easter mass before a crowd of thousands in st. peter's square. he parade fprayed for peace in syria and ukraine and an end to all war and conflict. we'll be back next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." nd conflict.
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we'll be back next week. if it's sunday,t's "meet the press." no matter what you're doing or where you are -- >> back up! >> you never know what might happen next. >> it's just pushing and pushing and pushing. >> you can see these big shapes of ice just coming at you. >> oh, my god! >> how would you react? >> it's your life, your life or his. >> what about now? >> todd grabbed may and said, "run, run."

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